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St. Joseph: A Just Man; A Model of Fatherhood, Righteousness

My dear brothers and sisters, we celebrated the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of Blessed Virgin Mary on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. This was the man through whom the promise of God to the House of David would be fulfilled. In the passage of scripture from 2 Samuel 7:16 that we read on his feast day, God said to David through the Prophet Nathan, “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” Joseph did not only bring about the fulfillment of this promise, his presence in the life of Mary, gave the Holy Family a sure position that it holds as a normal human family.

His role in the story of the birth, and the infancy of Jesus cannot be overemphasised. So, dear friends, as we celebrate the place of Joseph in the life of Mary, and in the history of our salvation today, I invite you to reflect with me on the theme, "Being a just person who fears God." The scriptures say about Mary, 'Her husband being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly.' This, dear friends, is one virtue in praise of St. Joseph that is far recorded in the scriptures. Yes, the scriptures do not have so many things to record about the person of Joseph, but this one virtue, his being a just man speaks loudly about him. He was a just man in all ramifications.

He was just as a husband, a father, a loyal companion and a faithful child of God. We too can learn how to qualify to be referred to as just persons by studying the life of St. Joseph. He was upright, honest, conscientious, dependable and trustworthy. He was empathetic, placing himself in the shoes of Mary at her most difficult time, and ready to do that which was needed to protect her, knowing that she was innocent. He was honourable, a ready provider for his family, willing to go to any length to ensure that his family was safe and secure. No wonder, he's not only the father of the Church, but a prototype and patron of all fathers.

By all standards, Joseph was not only just, but also faithful to God in his Jewish religion. He ensured that all the rights that were necessary for his wife and for his foster child, according to the Torah, the scripture of the Jewish religion were carried out. He had the fear of the Lord. And the fear of the Lord guided him to take the decisions that would be a challenge to an average man. His fear of God made him to listen and obey when the angel asked him not to be afraid to take Mary home as his wife. His fear of the Lord made him to take his family to Egypt, just because he was so directed in his dream.

The same fear of the Lord made him to disregard whatever people may think of him, as long as he was doing what the Lord asked of him. When anyone combines being just with being righteous, he would be walking in a right path, in the footsteps of St. Joseph whose feast we celebrated on Tuesday. The just man fears God and not human persons. My dear friends, this season of Lent should spur every one of us to look at St. Joseph and be inspired to be just and righteous.

Our society needs a lot of just men and women, who are motivated not just by philanthropy, but by the fear of the Lord. Indeed, we all must strive to be the just and righteous persons that our society needs. We need people, just people in our homes, people who treat their wives and husbands with empathy and fairness.

We need to have just men and women at the helm of affairs at all levels of our government, and in the various arms; executive, legislative and judiciary. And we hope that by the intercession of St. Joseph, we shall become a society of more just and righteous people like St. Joseph himself. And may God Almighty bless us as we go about our task today, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.



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